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A few Thoughts on VN Trends

Clephas

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Before I go visit my remaining grandparents this weekend (my grandmother on my father's side and grandfather on my mother's side are both in extremely frail condition right now, so we are taking time to show my sister's kid to them), I thought I would give my thoughts on modern VN trends.

Charage aren't going anywhere

Though I frequently bash the industry for over-saturating the market with moege/charage/SOL, the fact is that the demand for this type of VN is never going to go away as long as the Japanese eroge VN market exists.  Why?  Because it is the single easiest way to present the formation of relationships of young people into a sexual one.  While the genre isn't that attractive for people in their late teens or early to mid-twenties (incidentally the reason this market is declining), the majority of any older generation is always going to prefer this.  The lesser numbers of young people in Japan compared to my generation and the lower relative amounts of income are the main reasons for the current contraction of the genre.

Good Writers don't go into VNs anymore

This is a truth that few of the plotge addicts like me want to admit.  Most of the best writers in the VN industry are getting into middle age or later now (or have already left it), and the new and upcoming writers are mostly up and coming LN writers who have a far looser grasp on how to write/narrate and (more importantly) complete a story.  This doesn't mean they won't evolve their styles to match the new medium eventually, but whenever I've read a VN written by one of these newbies, the plot holes and poor handling of the endings of their games stand out painfully.

Chuunige are in decline

I absolutely hate to say this.  However, it needs to be said.  Trends in the last nine years in chuunige have tended to result in far too much side-story exploitation and sequelitis.  There is also a distinct lack of innovation, and when innovation does come, it tends to come with a huge drop in quality in the final product (Sora no Baroque).   Fans of the genre are getting older, and some companies (such as Light) have been putting their games in non-ero form on consoles to try to grasp the hearts of younger VN lovers (this has actually succeeded to an extent), but the fact is that it takes a much longer time for a chuunige company to  make back its investment after a release.  This is exacerbated by economic issues in Japan, and the fact that these companies mostly suck at advertising (like many niche genre companies, they only put it up in places where those already 'in the know' will find them).

VN Trends are always years behind the rest of Otaku-dom

VN communities in Japan are insular.  Even moreso than they are in the US.  When rom-com anime vanished for the most part at the end of the last decade, it was replaced with cheap action-fantasy (shallow, weaker stories for the most part, with more emphasis put on 'cool' elements) and moeblob.  The glut of such anime is reaching its peak right now... and that influence is starting to overflow (interpreted through the lens of the hyper-conservative VN community, of course) into our side of things.  That said, this is a trend that is unlikely to take hold, because it requires a modicum of writing skill that doesn't involve dialogue, and most VN writers just don't have that.  Instead, VN companies that have been around for a while have been 'testing the waters' by making games that step out of their usual niches, hoping to diversify to deal with the changing trends.  Light went with going down a much darker path than usual with its most recent game, and Navel actually put up a half-assed plotge last month.  These, along with many other incidences in the last two years, make me wonder just what the market will look like five years from now. 



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